Carl Reiner explained why he didn't play Rob Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show

He lost out to "maybe the most talented man ever on television."

The Everett Collection

When Carl Reiner first came up with The Dick Van Dyke Show, the series creator told USA Today, it was out of necessity. Out of every sitcom role he was offered, none of the writing excited him. He remembered it was his wife who planted the seed to write his own better show, which he called Head of the Family.

He said, "I was getting offered a lot of situation comedies. They weren't very good, and my wife said, 'Why don't you write one?' So, I wrote Head of the Family for myself." There was just one problem, though. Reiner said, "It didn't sell." Luckily, that wasn't the end of the series that would become The Dick Van Dyke Show, thanks a lot to titans of TV, producers Danny Thomas and Sheldon Leonard.

Reiner said, "Somebody gave the scripts to Sheldon Leonard and Danny Thomas. Sheldon said, 'These are wonderful.' I said, 'Sheldon, I don't want to fail twice with the same material.'" That's when Leonard changed the course of TV history by breaking the news to Reiner that his show would work, if he made one major change: "He said – and this is my favorite line: 'You won't fail. We'll get a better actor to play YOU.' It was Dick Van Dyke, maybe the most talented man that's ever been on television."

Taking the hit to his ego, Reiner slid over to bring in Van Dyke to star and proved Leonard right, as The Dick Van Dyke Show overcame its star's relative anonymity to become a sitcom that's still hilarious and relevant today. In the interview, Reiner went on to discuss his favorite episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show.

Reiner described one of his all-time favorites from the classic series that he may not have starred in, but he undeniably remained as the brains behind its overarching success: "I favor the ones people said wouldn't work and one of those was 'It May Look Like a Walnut'. I decided to do a version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Instead of pods, I used walnuts. Rob, who thinks he's having a nightmare, opens the closet and a thousand pounds of walnuts come sliding out, filling the floor, with Mary Tyler Moore riding the crest of the wave on her stomach."

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stephaniestavropoulos 60 months ago
While reading this story, this put me to mind of The Andy Griffith Show. Wasn't Andy sorta/kinda in the same boat DVD was in, wasn't he a relative unknown? I know he had made a couple of albums, and been in 1 or 2 movies, but I still don't think he was as well known as say...Jack Benny who also had his own show, {who, of course, was extremely well known!}
It seems to me, that to "make it" in Hollywood "back in the day," all that had to happen was you had to be living in relative obscurity, someone like Sheldon Leonard suggests that you allow someone much wiser than oneself, to convince you to get someone else,-I'm referring to CR letting SL get DVD;} or Danny Thomas hears about you. That's all it took! "The rest is as they say, is history."
Actually, Andy had three decent to good films before TAGS. With No Time For Sergeants, he got to show off his southern comedic side. Andy was equally effective playing a more dramatic part in Elia Kazan's A Face In The Crowd. I 'm really surprised ME hasn't done an article about Andy's early film career.
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